Herne hat-trick breaks Pumas' drought
MATCH REPORT: The Pumas claimed their first Currie Cup victory of the season, beating the Eastern Province Kings 38-30 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.
Both sides were desperate for a victory, but a last-minute display of excellence by the Pumas backline ensured they had the final say.
The hosts took a narrow 20-19 lead at the break and for the majority of the match looked more than likely to win.
However, in the final 10 minutes, the hosts just couldn't keep up with the Pumas' relentless onslaughts.
A remarkable hat-trick from hooker Frankie Herne secured the Pumas the win in a scintillating clash.
EP Kings flyhalf Peter-Steyn de Wet took the home side to a 6-0 lead early on.
Pumas flank Brian Shabangu went over for the first try of the match shortly thereafter, with the missed conversion attempt from Heinrich Steyl leaving the score at 6-5.
The Kings hit back with a converted try through fullback Johan Tromp, but Pumas hooker Frankie Herne continued his excellent try-scoring record this season by crossing the whitewash a few minutes later, with Steyl adding the two point for the conversion.
The Kings extended the lead through a converted Brandon Brown try, but the visitors surged back again through Herne, who crashed over for his second - with Steyl's successful kick bringing the halftime score to 20-19.
Kings scrumhalf and captain Ricky Schroeder darted over for a converted try early in the second half, but the ding-dong battle continued when Pumas scrumhalf Kevin Luiters replied with a try of his own. Steyl's missed conversion saw the visitors trailing 24-27, with a tense 20 minutes remaining.
The accurate De Wet slotted his third penalty to secure a six-point lead, but man of the match Herne wasn't done yet as he went over for a remarkable hat-trick by the front row. Devon Williams made the conversion to give the visitors a nail-biting 31-30 lead.
JP Lewis wrapped things up for the Pumas with a converted try in the dying minutes, with the game ending 38-30.
"We made a few too many errors again to give away easy points," Pumas coach Marthinus Mentz said.
"I think the guys managed to keep their composure and keep fighting back.
"We had the advantage in the forwards, so we used the mauls to good effect, and as usual Frankie took the lead in that aspect.
"It was a nail-biting match, but we're extremely relieved to get the win we've worked so hard for all season," added Mentz.
The bonus point win sees the Pumas move to seventh on the log, ahead of the Boland Cavaliers and the EP Kings.
For the Eastern Province Kings:
Tries: Tromp, De Wet, Schroeder
Cons: De Wet 3
Pens: De Wet 3
For the Pumas:
Tries: Shabangu, Herne 3, Luiters , Lewis
Cons: Steyl 2, Williams 2
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Johan Tromp, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Ricky Schroeder (captain), 8 Christiaan de Bruin, 7 Sebastian Ferreira, 6 Brandon Brown, 5 Dylan Pieterse, 4 Mthetheleli Fuzani, 3 Vukile Sofisa 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Barend Potgieter.
Replacements: 16 Warrick Venter, 17 Pieter Stemmet, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Luke van der Smit, 20 Cullen Callopy, 21 Vian van der Watt, 22 Lungelo Gosa.
Pumas: 15 Davon Williams, 14 Tyler Fisher, 13 Hoffman Maritz, 12 Leighton van Wyk, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Heinrich Steyl, 9 Emile Temperman, 8 Renaldo Bothma (captain), 7 Carel Greeff, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Jeremy Jordaan, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Frank Herne, 1 DeJay Terblanche.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Marne Coetzee, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Reuben Johannes, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruwellyn Isbell
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Rodney Boneparte, Christie du Preez